My birthday arrives in a number of hours. It’ll by my 48th. It’s been a rough couple years, but I’m still kicking. My kids are great, my boobs aren’t dragging the floor yet, and I have some of the finest human beings who, if hooked up to electrodes, would admit they love me awful.
I am blessed beyond measure, despite what the good people at Bank of America would tell you.
Here are 25 things I’ve learned in 48 years. Maybe I should have learned 48 things, but I’m super busy doing things like tap dancing and trying to understand why Woody Harrelson is a movie star.
1. When there is something in another person that I strongly dislike, it’s always God holding up a mirror to me saying, “Oh yeah? Well guess what, Gertrude? That’s only your reflection because the exact same thing is in you.”
Why God calls me Gertrude, I’ll never know.
2. A soulmate is not the person who simply makes your knees weak and your palms sweat for 8 minutes in the beginning of a relationship. Your soulmate is the person who pulls you into the refining fire of unconditional love… and it’s often absolute agony. Your soulmate is the person who doesn’t let you off easy. It’s the one who asks “why” when other people just accept what you give them. A soulmate has the keys to all your locks, but never uses them with anything other than the pure intent of helping you get to the highest and best version of yourself.
3. Maintaining a marriage that is mutually fulfilling and completely filled up with truly unconditional love is almost impossibly hard. Most people have a better chance of solving a Rubik’s’ Cube blindfolded – while underwater and simultaneously fighting a ravenous shark for their very lives.
4. Black licorice is not good and anyone that says different is suspect.
5. Bono was right. Love is a higher law.
6. Commercials lie to us at least 1,000 times a day. M & Ms can totally melt in your hands. Supermodels don’t eat giant hamburgers that are too big for their delicate mouths. Lizards are actually terrible auto insurance sales people.
7. Whoever said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” never ate a hot-buttered biscuit smothered in honey.
8. There is no honor in being poor, no matter what you were taught growing up. As a poor person myself, and the unofficial spokesperson for poor people everywhere, I can tell you that having zero dollars in the bank doesn’t make me a better person. It makes me a scared person, and a scared person never did anything much to help anyone.
9. When you are hurting or in trouble, you will never hear a true friend say, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” A friend never asks for permission to throw you a life saver.
10. Romantic love is best left to Harlequin winches with heaving bosoms and their Fabio stable boys. Give me someone who brings me banana Popsicles when I’ve been throwing up, and who washes the sheets for me because he knows how much I love it. A stable boy has never done a thing for me.
11. Being a parent is the best gig in the universe. Sometimes it makes you wish a cartoon anvil would land on your head and offer the sweet relief only death can bring. But sometimes, most times, it fills you up in a way nothing else ever will.
12. Divorce means two adults can no longer be their best selves if they stay together. It doesn’t mean the marriage was a mistake, or that love never existed in some way.
13. A man who spews hateful and disrespectful words about his Mother, his sister, or his ex-wife/girlfriend, should be seen by single women as covered in fecal matter and avoided in the same way they’d avoid hugging a public toilet. You may choose to believe that the term “bitch” applies to his ex, or that she really is crazy and that’s why they broke up, but you do so at your own peril. Remember…he once told her “I love you.”
How a man treats the important women in his life story is how he’ll treat you eventually.
14. Men are not women with more visible facial hair. They don’t think like us, react like us, or understand us. That doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate us.
15. Relationships don’t come with superpowers. When you decide to be together with someone, you shouldn’t expect they can see through walls, become invisible at will, or read your mind.
16. My Maw-Maw said if a dog or a baby has a strong dislike of someone, you should pay attention. She was right about that.
17. Never trust a Mother who has better clothes than her kid.
18. Step-parents have no business administering any kind of punishment to a step-child. It causes more problems than you can imagine. While they can certainly say to the child, “I don’t like what you did,” they don’t become some kind of co-owner of another human being when they get married. Opinions about discipline should definitely be talked about behind closed doors, but discipline should always be decided upon and delivered by the actual parent.
19. Your parents weren’t always right.
20. Your parents weren’t always wrong.
21. Anytime a person or religion tries to put the worst of human behaviors on the God of the Universe, no good can come from it.
22. People who have the guts to put pink flamingos in their yards are to be admired. They are the kind of people you should always make the effort to get to know.
23. Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is among the top 5 most important of human behaviors.
24. Happy surprises keep you young. Hope for them, look for them, wish for them, and surround yourself with at least 3 people who are prone to deliver them.
25. Birthdays are good things. As my Daddy says, “every day on this side of the dirt is a good day.”